Meg Munn MP: why I'm bringing forward the Co-operative Schools Bill
Later this afternoon, I will rise in the Commons to introduce the Co-operative Schools Bill.
It is a landmark in the extraordinary story of co-operative education, a movement that has hugely expanded in just a few years since the Co-operative College and Labourâ€™s then education ministers embarked on this journey. 450 co-operative schools are now operating.
In Co-operative Trust schools, everyone â€“ teachers, parents, pupils and the local community â€“ work together for mutual benefit. Performance improves; pupils learn and are more engaged with the life of the school.
The local community has a say in how the school - a state school - is run, and with a commitment to equality and equity everyone is helped to be the best they can.
Read more about Co-op Schools by Mervyn Wilson of the Co-operative College
In opposition, David Cameron said he supported co-operative schools.
However there is no sign that this has been attempted. Academies have become the centre piece of education policy. Nor has the free-schools policy led to a new generation of parent-owned co-operatives â€“ to date just one of the free schools is expected to operate as a co-operative.
At the moment there is no provision in the relevant acts for co-operative schools. They have to work around the existing legislation in a clumsy and confusing way.
So the first clause of my very short Bill seeks to amend Education Acts to include these legal forms and so ensure a level playing field with other school structures.
Nursery schools are in many ways the most naturally co-operative part of the education sector with their engagement with parents and carers.Consequently clause 2 of my bill would enable nursery schools to be established as school trusts.
Read more about the Bill
I believe co-operative schools are very well placed not only to ensure high standards of education, but also to teach children that the values of co-operation have a great deal to offer.
Find out more about how teaching union NASUWT and others are supporting the Bill
In the words of Pat McGovern, headteacher at Helston Community College, â€œThe last thing the people of Cornwall want is to see a big education chain coming in to run school services and take money out of the area. â€¦ Our co-operative is about a mutual solution to local needs.â€
The education system should always be based on support, collaboration and co-operation at every level.
Meg Munn MP
Labour & Co-operative MP, Sheffield Heeley